In July, when Mayor Marion Barry announced a new economic development initiative for war-torn Georgia Avenue NW, he conjured images of fresh investment, new jobs, and shiny shopping centers. But since the announcement, Barry has apparently decided that sleight of hand will produce
better results than genuine economic development. The mayor is opting for Plan B: renaming 7th Street “Georgia Avenue” all the way from Florida Avenue NW to the Southwest quadrant of the city. With just a few new street signs, Georgia Avenue would become an overnight economic-development sensation, hosting the MCI Arena and all the new businesses around it. Of course, Barry’s economic-development/street-renaming initiative would do little for the devitalized strip known as the current Georgia Avenue. Barry’s plan is far from a done deal, however. The D.C. Historical Society and the Oldest Inhabitants of D.C. have signed up to testify against the name change at a hearing before the D.C. Council’s Public Works committee Friday. Barbara Franco, executive director of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., says that the groups want to preserve 7th Street’s rich history as well as Pierre L’Enfant’s original city plan. By randomly changing street names, says Franco, “[The plan] begins to lose its coherence after a while. You lose that historic continuity.”
Hack and Blue Thanks to a little help from Metropolitan Police Chief Larry Soulsby, Asian Liaison Sgt. Harry T. Hill will be driving a new car soon—but it won’t be a cruiser. Last year, Soulsby asked the D.C. Council to loosen off-duty employment restrictions so that officers could work as cabdrivers. Hill, who last week received his cabbie license, is officially the first D.C. cop to pass the hack’s exam since the law changed. While it’s hardly compensation for the pay cut he suffered this year, Hill sees a lucrative future in the business. A third-generation D.C. hack, Hill is hoping to organize a stable of cop cabbies and open his own taxi company. Given the state of D.C.’s taxicab industry—where scores of drivers have bought their licenses illegally and many can’t find the White House without a map—he figures people will jump at the chance to hop in a cop-driven cab. Hill thinks allowing cops to hack is good for the District, too, since cops are sworn to fight crime 24 hours a day, even if they’re driving cabs. “[D.C. is] getting free patrol service,” says Hill, who also believes bad guys will be deterred from preying on cabs if the drivers might turn out to be armed D.C. cops. “Bandits beware,” he adds.
Off-Campus Housing Schoolkids, it seems, aren’t the only casualties in the city’s battle with Superior Court Judge Kaye K. Christian over fire-code violations in District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) buildings. Five Ward 8 community organizations are getting the boot after a failing boiler and damaged roof forced the closing of their home in the Old Congress Heights School on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE. But while shut-out schoolkids get daily news reports on school closings, DCPS officials never bothered to tell the community groups to find drier quarters. Habitat for Humanity moved out last Saturday based solely on rumors of the impending shutdown. One organization, The Capital Commitment (TCC), did get an eviction notice—a week before it was supposed to clear out, according to TCC director Ernest Boykin Jr. He was able to convince school officials to allow TCC to stay a little longer—but only after TCC surrendered its keys and agreed to have school security personnel unlock the doors each morning. “It’s funny—they were our doors,” says Boykin. “We had installed them.”